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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Rutgers: Publication Investigates Joint Impact of Both Chemical and Non-Chemical Stressors on Maternal and Child Health

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health publication examines the epidemiologic literature on the joint effect of chemical and non-chemical stressors on children’s health.

Chemical exposures and psychological stress each individually have negative impacts on health, especially in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children.

Unfortunately, due to social disadvantage, the same individuals may experience both high levels of chemical exposures and stress. Although there has been considerable research on the risk of individual exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors, surprisingly few studies have examined how these exposures may work together to influence health.

Led by Dr. Emily S. Barrett, associate professor of epidemiology, the researchers reviewed literature on the combined implications of synthetic chemical and non-chemical exposures, resulting in the review of twelve studies. The studies examined pesticides, phthalates, and Polychlorinated Biphenyls, and environmental indices co-occurring with mental, social, or psychological stressors.

The review found that more often than not, the combination of chemical and non-chemical stressors was more strongly associated with adverse health outcomes than the individual measures.

Dr. Barrett notes that there is a crucial need for research to investigate the mechanisms and relationships for which the chemical and non-chemical stressors may affect health outcomes.

“Cumulative risk assessment has been proposed to evaluate possible additive and synergistic effects of multiple chemical, physical, and social stressors on human health, with the goal to inform policy and decision-making and protect public health,” said Dr. Barrett.

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